Negotiations are underway between the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and the State Railways of the Republic of Turkey (TCDD) for launching passenger trains between Tehran and Istanbul, the head of IRIR said on Monday.

“We have been planning to launch this route for years. Research shows Tehran-Istanbul railroad will bring in ample profits for investors,” Saeed Rasouli was also quoted as saying by ISNA.

The official noted that TCDD and Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism are eager for this route to start operating.

Passenger train services resumed on Tehran-Tabriz-Van railroad on June 24 after they were suspended for nearly four years.

On August 7, passenger train services resumed between Iran and Turkey’s capital cities, Tehran and Ankara, respectively. 

The services have been scheduled to run on a weekly basis. 

Train services between Iran and Turkey were suspended in 2015 due to security concerns about terrorist attacks on the route.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Turkey was the most popular overseas destination for Iranian travelers in 2018, accounting for 41% of all visits abroad. 

Following were Iraq (18%), UAE (11%), and Syria and Armenia (4% each). The remaining 22% went to other parts of the world.


A report published by the Hotel Association of Turkey shows some 2.5 million Iranian tourists visited Turkey in 2017, making the country the top destination for Iranian holidaymakers. Iraq, the UAE and Armenia followed Turkey as most popular destinations for Iranians.

In 2016, 1.7 million Iranian tourists spent their holidays in Turkey. The report noted that Iranians on average spend six nights in Turkey and spend $1,000 per person versus $630 spent by other foreign tourists per capita.

Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, the eastern province of Van and the southern province of Antalya are the most popular destinations for Iranian vacationers.

Thousands of Iranians flocked to Turkey during Iran’s two-week New Year holiday, known as Norouz, this year (started March 21), creating a great stir in Turkey’s tourism sector.

More than 18,000 Iranian tourists entered Turkey from the eastern province of Van’s Kapikoy border gate alone during the first week of Norouz, while other Turkish provinces such as Erzurum, Rize and Antalya also welcomed Iranian tourists in this period.

Arriving in a wide range of cities from Van and Adana to Erzurum and Rize, Iranians have pleased both tradesmen and hoteliers, especially in this low season period. Hotel occupancy in some regions exceeded 80%.

Turkey was the third biggest source of tourism to Iran last year after Iraq and Azerbaijan, accounting for 8% of all foreign tourists who visited Iran in 2018.

The drop in the value of Iran’s national currency has made many Iranian families rethink their plans for foreign trips.

The latest data released by Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism indicate the number of Iranian tourists visiting Turkey, a popular tourist destinations, considerably decreased in 2018.

More than 1,894,100 Iranian travelers visited Turkey during the first 11 months of 2018, which marks an 18.17% decline compared with the corresponding period of the year before when the number of Iranian visitors was 2,314,656.

Among all tourists who visited Turkey from January to November 2018, only 5.05% were Iranian.

The drop was more significant in November as the number of Iranian travelers to Turkey decreased by 46.39% from 196,000 in last November to 105,000 this year.

In November of 2018, only 5.35% of all travelers who visited Turkey were Iranian.